UPDATE 1st April – HS2 begins its Tree Felling season amidst the coronavirus crisis. Not an April Fool
April 01, 2020 by Extinction Rebellion
- In the face of coronavirus lockdown, HS2 contractors – including Laing Murphy, Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, PT Trees, and HW Martin amongst others – have travelled from all over the UK to ramp up works to destroy ancient woodlands in Kenilworth, Warwickshire
- Campaigners in trees – now in their sixth day at Crackley Woods – are resisting eviction by the National Eviction Team who are currently onsite with cherrypickers. Campaigners are being denied food and water by the bailiffs, and have issued a letter with a set of demands.
- Local campaigners have been peacefully slow walking in front of the contractors vehicles in an attempt to prevent destruction, wildlife crimes and protect nature.
- Please donate if you can to the Fundraiser for the tree protectors at stop HS2 Crackley camp.
This morning HS2 contractors – Laing Murphy, Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, PT Trees, and HW Martin amongst others – have travelled from all over the UK – during this time of coronavirus lockdown – to ramp up works to destroy ancient woodlands in Kenilworth. Having shared transport to get to the ‘sites’, with evidence that workers are not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing, the contractors are due to start cutting down trees at Broadwells Wood, and moving onto Birches and Crackley.
Also this morning, local campaigners have been peacefully slow walked in front of the contractors vehicles in an attempt to prevent the destruction, wildlife crimes and protect nature.
Campaigners in trees are now in their sixth day at Crackley Woods (CV8 2JS), and being denied food and water by HS2 bailiffs.  Food was cabled in by locals on Sunday, but they are currently out of water. Last night, more people joined in nearby trees and are making their way to the others to get essential food supplies to them. Cherry pickers have entered the wood to remove branches and prevent a bridge being constructed to the original group.
Four of the occupants of the trees at Crackly Wood have written a letter including a set of demands. The letter (PDF here) states:
We are writing from the canopy. 20 metres up an old lime tree. 6 days into the attempted eviction of Crackley Wood. 1 week into the Covid lockdown.
Bats come out of hibernation today, and the hawkers have been sent in to get rid of the nesting birds. HS2 are preparing to cut down this ancient woodland without Notice to Proceed.
There are four of us in this tree, currently isolated from one or two more further down. The four of us being a father and scientist, a former Taekwondo national champion/World’s OKest Bass Player, a rovin’ philosophy dropout, and a squirrel-eating folk singer.
We have 5 demands.
Ultimately, we want to stop HS2. It does not serve ordinary people. It does not accommodate for a culture gearing towards a society with ecology on the agenda. HS2 is proclaimed to be carbon neutral in 120 years, yet during a time of biological annihilation and climate emergency, they consider wiping out precious woodland and endangered habitat a sound ecological plan.
The British public have not been informed of the costs or the implications of the project. Considering this is the most expensive railway per mile in the history of the world, at an estimated £307 million per mile, and being paid for by public money, this is completely undemocratic. We therefore seek a democratic solution.
We demand a citizen’s assembly in the nature of the one used in Ireland for the repeal of the eighth amendment on abortion. This will ensure public money is used to meet public needs not private interests (at a time when the NHS has to decide who it can and cannot treat, leaving the more vulnerable facing death as a result of lack of staff and funds). This is our primary demand.
We also have demands that require immediate action.
• Stop HS2 during this pandemic. This is not essential work. HS2 should not be exempt from their current social responsibility. We have witnessed the impossibility of workers being able to keep to their social distancing.
• Stop this eviction, and all others, during this pandemic. We have witnessed the bailiffs be unwilling or unable to comply with the social distancing policy. Any kind of eviction brings high stress, which threatens the immune system. We are also at a height of 20 metres from the woodland floor, exposed to the elements with no free access to food or water. We are being given an ultimatum: either highly risk our personal immune systems, and therefore our close family and community’s health, or hold onto our current home, which is part of the little remaining precious ecosystem we all rely on. This is completely unjust.
• Stop any irreversible work until both Chris Packham’s court case on the legality of the project, and Notice to Proceed go ahead. That includes habitat destruction of any kind, work involving displacing homes, ground and preparatory works, etc.
• Should work cease, we demand that workers receive adequate compensation, the sum of which to be decided by the workers themselves, as only they know the needs for which this compensation need fill. The fallouts of poor decisions made by upper management and politicians should not fall upon those who are forced to implement them.
Signed, The thirsty occupants x
HS2 work goes against expert advice from conservationists, and when it is illegal to disturb nesting birds, when the project does not have notice to proceed and is facing legal challenges. The government must halt HS2 works now, rethink HS2 and invest to protect communities, public health and nature.
Notes to editors
For more information or to interview those on the ground call 07969 083 371.
Live streams on XR FB page: https://www.facebook.com/XRebellionUK/videos/446872392769225/